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Airfare savings
Combining airfares

Sometimes the best fare is a combination of two or more airfares, something airlines seldom, if ever, tell you. In these cases, two tickets are cheaper than one for the same trip.

On this page, you'll see examples of how this works and also find out the important cautions you need to know before using two or more tickets for your trip.

Thinking of combinations

A good way to think of combinable tickets is to study the route maps of budget airlines, such as Southwest, JetBlue, WestJet (Canada), and Ryanair (Europe, Ireland, and the United Kingdom).

These airlines may not go all the way to your destination, but using one during part of your trip may be cheaper than buying one ticket on a more expensive airline all the way.

It helps to think of popular cities between your origin and destination. Ones that you would enjoy visiting.

For example, there may not be good airfares from Albany, NY to Cabo San Lucas, but there are probably low fares from Albany to Las Vegas or Los Angeles using Southwest Airlines.

And, because Cabo is a popular destination for people who live in the western U.S., you'll probably find low fares from Los Angeles or Las Vegas to Cabo.

Examples of how fares are combined

Take a look at two examples of using two tickets for the same trip:

  • You want to travel from Edmonton to Venice, but fares are very high.

    On the other hand, you know that there are really cheap airfare specials from Edmonton to Dublin or Shannon in Ireland, which you've always wanted to visit.

    In this case, you'll combine your Ireland fare special with a super discount Ryanair ticket from Dublin or Shannon to Venice. You'll hardly believe how cheap Ryanair is.

    Airports near Amsterdam, Dublin, Frankfurt, Paris, and London all offer cheap fares to other points in Europe. These flights often use secondary airports, such as London Lutton Airport, not well-known ones like Heathrow.

    See the Ryanair site for examples of these budget fare airports.

  • You want to travel from Harrisburg to Vancouver, BC.

    A peak season Harrisburg, PA, to Vancouver fare may be—will likely be—outrageously high. There's little competition on this type of route.

    In this case, check the Harrisburg to Seattle fare. Dr. Voyageur bets that it's significantly lower than the fare from Harrisburg to Vancouver most of the year. Then check the Seattle to Vancouver fare. Buying these separately should help you save.

    However, you can be even more creative.

    Try adding the cost of a Baltimore (a city 70 miles from Harrisburg that has Southwest Airlines service) to Seattle ticket onto a Seattle to Vancouver fare (or taking a convenient four hour coach ride from the Seattle Airport to Vancouver as Dr. V might do).

    This cost should be even lower.

Of course, you may not want to choose an inconvenient budget choice.

But you DO want to know the alternatives available before spending hundreds of dollars.

Be cautious when combining fares

Be careful when combining two or more tickets on a trip. You can really save, but using two or more tickets significantly increases your risk, unless you follow the procedures outlined below.

  • Combining fares works best when you will enjoy spending a bit of time at your stop between tickets. Pick someplace interesting, such as Las Vegas or Amsterdam.

    That way you'll get two trips for less than the price of one.

    And—very importantly—you won't have to worry that the airline on the first ticket might arrive late or change its flight times. Otherwise, the airline on the second ticket may charge you hefty change penalties or refuse to change its ticket. Having a day or more between flights gives you the comfort zone you need.

  • Booking two tickets online can be awkward.

    What if you pay for one ticket and then find that the other ticket is suddenly unavailable for the price you expected—even though it was available a minute ago? No airline price is guaranteed until you pay.

    Because of this, you may wish to use a travel counselor when coordinating two itineraries. In most cases, he or she will void the first ticket if you are unable to get the second ticket as expected. Ask before using.

  • When you use two tickets, you cannot check your luggage from the airline or airlines on one ticket to the airline or airlines on the other.

    This can be a real hassle if your first flight is late or if you have awkward bags to carry.

    This is good reason to have at least a day between flights or not to check bags.

  • In some cases, you may need to transfer airports. Make sure that you understand what airports you are booking.

  • Some budget airlines, especially in Europe, have far more restrictive limits on luggage size and weight both for what you check and for what you carry on. Be sure that you understand these rules. The penalties for noncompliance can be shocking.

  • Also, although a few budget airlines, such as Southwest and JetBlue, are very financially strong, you should check out ones you're not familiar with on Yahoo Finance.

    Look at the one year stock price chart. If the price has "tanked," i.e., lost most of its value, that's all you need to know.

    Generally, avoid privately owned small airlines. It's hard enough to predict the financial viability of the public ones.

Combining fares can significantly increase your savings and open up additional opportunities to enjoy your travels.

Just know what you are doing!

Go on to Open jaws & circle traps, or learn about One-way (single) airfares.

For more airfare savings tips:

Go to >> Airfare savings introduction
Go to >> Finding cheap fares
Go to >> Last-minute fares
Go to >> Combining fares
Go to >> Open jaws & circle trips
Go to >> One-way (single) airfares
Go to >> Bereavement flights
Go to >> Weekend internet fares
Go to >> Budget airlines, or Southwest Airlines
Go to >> Bucket shop fares
Go to >> Visit North America fares

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